The most read Founder Pakistan articles from H1 2022

To determine our product market fit or market product fit, we thought to publicly publish our key data points regarding one measure of traction. This will be segmented between top-performing news stories and top-performing features.

Performance is objectively measured by traffic, time on site, and articles read per visitor. We also subjectively measure performance by the article’s impact on policy and external decision-making.

Top features and possibly why

  1. The bookkeeping gateway to digitize Pakistan’s $150 billion retail industry
    A passion project for lead reporter Rauff Hanif, this feature covered B2B e-commerce startups Bazaar, Dastgyr, Retailo, Tajir, and more to offer a glimpse into what they were telling investors about the opportunity and the roadmap. Inspired by features in Profit magazine, this was the first attempt to offer weekly data journalism. Newsletter sign-up goals were exceeded the week this came out.
  2. Why are the largest eCommerce marketplaces breaking up with QisstPay?
    Amid a string of industry reports that QisstPay had fired several of its top management and made changes in its API to cut out various partners, we interviewed the founder of a large eCommerce marketplace to understand why his business had severed ties with the BNPL company. The interview is telling, as was its impact. It is so far the only story taken down due to a severe threat made by a QisstPay employee against the reporter. Founder Pakistan lacks the finances to deal with hitmen as a free-to-read publication.
  3. Seven ways startups should reduce OPEX
    In anticipation of the global slowdown, we began to look into practical tips by which companies could retain their headcount and extend their runway by making microscopic changes in their operational expenditure. The first rule of thumb was to be asset-light, like B2B e-commerce contender Dastgyr. This article was well received due to the timing and was one of the first signals to the market that the editorial board at Founder Pakistan was helmed by seasoned journalists that knew what was coming next.
  4. Mapping out eCommerce enablement platforms in Pakistan
    In the second data journalism project by Founder Pakistan, what the traction on this lacked in quantity made up for in quality of reactions. The largest names in the venture capital space reached out in appreciation, and the companies we didn’t name had made tangible gestures of support for future editions of this story. We know Pakistan loves rankings and visuals to tweet about, with this being utilized as an unbiased 3rd party POV on what platforms work and why. This also led to threats of legal notices from has-beens and manchildren that are used to micromanaging the editorial process to meet their specific horseshit claims about building an ecosystem.
  5. Why are Pakistanis downloading payday loan apps?
    The team at Founder Pakistan is proud to say that this was the article – originally titled Why are digitized loan shark apps taking off? as seen in the URL, which was purposefully left as is – that inspired a string of better and follow-up stories on Dawn, then Tribune, and finally Profit magazine. As usual, when we reached out to key leaders at Barwaqt, they weren’t too keen to share or verify what sources had told us. After our story came out and the ripple effects began to show, they became eager to speak with other reporters. Little did they know that the journalists wouldn’t frame their claims or actions positively. This led to the SECP serving them notices and the PTA banning loan shark apps. Once again, this article may have had relatively low traction in quantity, but it was impactful in the quality of its influence, a metric we’re striving for more daily.

Top news stories and possibly why

  1. Retailo downsizing due to global recession
    Like most venture-backed companies in Pakistan, the B2B marketplace model executed by Bazaar, Dastgyr, Tajir, and Retailo was not immune to investor slowdown. The developments that led to this story were hardly a surprise. The traction on it – including heatmap data – suggests that our audience is interested in understanding what business model deficiencies are causing the B2B marketplace model to subsidize demand.
  2. Dastgyr closing record Series A of $45 million
    First reported by Deal Street Asia, this has turned out to be hype generated when Dastgyr struggled to close Veon as its lead investor, with the total investment being 18% below what was initially reported. This may have been due to a valuation haircut or relatively lower interest in the business and the model, given the lack of market product fit that would negate the need for subsidizing demand.
  3. Mehvish Waliany to join Alkaram Studio as chief operating officer
    Purely an exclusive and a story confirmed by the candidate herself. This story went viral because a member of the AlKaram Studio human resources team threatened to send a legal notice to Founder Pakistan on the grounds that the story was untrue. When we asked them to put in writing that it was untrue and there was no interest in hiring Mehwish – even though our top source said she was serving her notice at the time – the human resource team backed down. In the meantime, the ruckus created by the human resource team members within AlKaram Studio led the whole company to learn about the article and share it ad nauseum. It became the first source of information for the company staff regarding their new boss. This happens when internal communications are controlled by the human resource, administration, or legal team, as opposed to hiring an experienced storyteller in communications.
  4. GoVendi installs its first sanitary napkin vending machine at IoBM
    Bit of a surprise hit, to be honest, and went viral due to Facebook groups such as Soul Sisters and Soul Bitches appreciating the startup. This was the first sponsored post published by Founder Pakistan. Goes to show that well-written branded content within a native format can go a long way. It’s almost as if the publisher knows their audience better than the advertiser/sponsor. Spare a thought to that.
  5. Alkaram Studio poaches Nida Siddiqui from Bonanza Satrangi
    Another exclusive provided by our top source in the fashion industry. This took off due to the personal brand of Nida Siddiqui and various executives of Alkaram Studio boosting post virality with affirmations. It was also popular due to triggering incels.

Got a story you think is worth covering? Reach us at [email protected] today.

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